Haydale Graphene Industries PLC, which is focused on enabling technology for the commercialisation of graphene and other nanomaterials, has acquired Thailand-based ink and composites group Innophene. Haydale says the acquisition is a crucial step in its Asian expansion.

Haydale’s chief executive Ray Gibbs said the deal was a strategic move to ensure it had rapid response and application engineering support in the Far East. The UK-based company has already started trialing Innophene’s products.

Innophene, founded in 2011, is a small-scale innovation based business that has developed, in conjunction with the Thailand National Science & Technology Development Agency, a one-stage exfoliation/dispersion process to create a range of graphene-enhanced transparent conductive inks for inkjet and other printing platforms.

It has also now developed a graphene enhanced PLA (Poly-Lactic Acid) resin, commonly used in medical devices and 3D printing, that shows improved mechanical and barrier performance without sacrificing transparency, thereby allowing the material to be coloured through the addition of pigments, whereas a graphene loaded PLA will be black. Innophene has commenced targeted marketing of its Thai-patented transparent conductive ink.

Haydale says a key benefit of the acquisition is Innophene’s ability to harness local expertise to design and develop high value applications for the carbon based organic and printed electronic market. Its graphene inks are suitable for screen, roll to roll and inkjet printing and can be printed on a range of materials.

Innophene’s highly qualified staff have also started to focus on graphene enhance composite applications in their local market and, following completion of the acquisition, will be using know how developed in the work done on composites by the group’s UK operations.

Haydale has been trialing Innophene’s graphene enhanced inks internally and with a number of potential customers in the Far East for several months. The Innophene portfolio of ink products and its PLA ‘non-black’ resin will extend the group’s products available for sale.

Innophene’s access to The Thailand Science Park in Bangkok, with its extensive analytical and processing capabilities, provides a platform for it to become the group’s Far East Centre of Excellence.

The acquisition will also provide Haydale with research and development capability for current and potential Far East customers. This will require the delivery, initially, of a HT60 plasma reactor to Innophene’s site on the Thailand Science Park to provide low cost processing and treatment services. A second reactor is likely to follow in 2017 to meet anticipated demand in the region.

The acquisition will cost £311,000 to be met by new shares issued to Innophene’s owners.

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